Amy Aisen KallanderNov 18, 2021
Tunisia's Modern Woman
Nation-Building and State Feminism in the Global 1960s
Cambridge University Press 2021
Following Tunisian independence in 1956, President Habib Bourguiba centered women’s liberation as part of the identity of the new nation. In Tunisia’s Modern Woman: Nation-Building and State Feminism in the 1960s (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Amy Aisen Kallander uses this political appropriation of women's rights to look at the importance of women to post-colonial state-building projects in Tunisia. She explores how the notion of modern womanhood was central to a range of issues from economic development and family planning to intellectual life and the growth of Tunisian academia. Looking at political discourse, popular culture, the women's press, fashion, and ideas about love, the book traces how this concept was reformulated by women through transnational organizing and in the press in ways that proposed alternatives to the dominant constructions of state feminism. Situating Tunisia within broader Afro-Asian networks and global Cold War politics, it highlights comparisons with other state-feminist projects, and how women served as symbolic envoys for the new Tunisian state in the international arena.
Rebecca Turkington is a PhD Candidate in History at Cambridge University studying transnational women’s networks.